Mr Sobyanin said that revision of the Moscow city budget would see a more than three-fold increase in funding for addressing the city’s transport problems.
Medium-term tasks include establishing an automated traffic management system in the city, as well as a public transport management system based on the GLONASS satellite navigation system.
Mr Medvedev was positive in his assessment of Mr Sobyanin’s work over his first month in the post of Moscow mayor.
The President said that fighting corruption and crime, including the underground gambling business, are top priorities for work.
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President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev: Mr Sobyanin, how is your work going?
Mayor of Moscow Sergei Sobyanin: It’s difficult, but interesting.
Dmitry Medvedev: Well, that’s good.
The last time you and I met (I mean, in the presence of the media; we met later as well, but you made your official report almost immediately after the corresponding events), I gave a whole set of instructions on work in Moscow. I see that you have been working on fulfilling them quite energetically. What have you been able to achieve?
Sergei Sobyanin: In the month that I have been Mayor, I have focused on a deep revision of the city budget, because the budget is the source of financing and the basis for the city’s economic development.
Here is what we’ve been able to achieve. We reduced the amount of loans we planned to take out at the end of this year and the beginning of next by 116 billion rubles [about $3.7 billion]. That is, we reduced the amount of funds Moscow planned to attract on the market – involving rather tight obligations to banks, interest rates, etc. – by 116 billion [rubles]. At the same time…
Dmitry Medvedev: What did you manage to cut? What was it?
Sergei Sobyanin: A variety of things. First of all, we increased our revenue base, and second, we eliminated various exotic expenditures related to construction of a cast-iron pipe factory, a refrigerator factory, and other facilities that are not even located in Moscow and require significant spending, plus a number of other dubious projects. We did not take anything away from the social sector or cut our social commitments, just as you and I discussed – as you instructed; we keep a close watch to make sure that there are no reductions in social protection.
Furthermore, we were able to significantly increase the volume of funding directed at resolving transport-related problems – funding was increased more than three-fold. Initially, plans were to allocate about 60 billion rubles. Now, we plan to set aside 200 billion rubles to resolve transport problems. We intend to double spending on metro construction, increasing it from 25 to 50 billion rubles. Moreover, we have announced that in the next few years this figure will remain a stable and constant minimum, so that metro builders know this…
Dmitry Medvedev: And can plan ahead.
Sergei Sobyanin: …And can plan ahead. After all, this kind of construction cannot be completed in a year. It requires at least a five-year timeframe.
We need to increase funding for developing transport infrastructure, road and public transport, etc., three- to four-fold depending on the area. I think this would give us a sound basis for implementing systemic projects aimed at improving the transport situation. It will not bear fruit within a month, but I am certain that it will bring results in the medium term.
One of the pressing matters we need to address is the implementation of an automated city traffic control system. We have not had one in Moscow. We built a rudimentary localised version about five years ago. There will be no funding limits set. In other words, we want to master and implement such a system, based on the world’s best technologies, as soon as possible, so we will finance and implement it. I believe that the basic elements should be in place by late 2011.
We are also implementing an automated public transport control system. We haven’t had this before, either. Locally, systems were implemented for about ten per cent of the city’s municipal transport, while there was absolutely no coordination for other transport (private, etc.), and that’s why we have such chaos in public transport sector.
We have also agreed to create a GLONASS-based coordination and traffic control system.
Last time, you spoke about the need to coordinate our work with Moscow Region, because we have many problems on the borders between Moscow and Moscow Region.
Dmitry Medvedev: That’s true.
Sergei Sobyanin: Mr Gromov [Boris Gromov, Governor of Moscow Region] and I held a joint meeting of the two governments and adopted a joint action plan in a number of areas – transport development, environmental protection measures, joint energy development, and others. I think that this is also a promising area of work.
As per your instructions, we have engaged in a systemic work to fight corruption through a massive revision of all administrative standards, resolutions, procedures, etc., because these murky flows are a fat land for corruption. Naturally, we must pull up the shutters here.
We are making some serious staff changes; this is a major, systemic work. No rush, no haste, but we are working on it.
Dmitry Medvedev: Very well, Mr Sobyanin. You have covered the main problems that bother everyone, particularly Muscovites. We need to continue this work in precisely the same calm but assertive manner that you have been employing.
It’s obvious that we can’t change the situation in the public road system and solve all traffic related problems in Moscow instantaneously. Anyone who thinks that it could be done in a month is quite mistaken. But at the same time, as we discussed at a special meeting dedicated to this problem, all actions should be divided into those that will have a rapid effect and strategic actions including, for example, the Moscow metro development, which requires investment and long-term planning. I am glad that you have found money to fund this and are working consistently on developing Moscow’s public transport system.
As for the general situation, the budget certainly needs to be clearer and more transparent, without losing any of our social landmarks (indeed, they are sacred), or the guarantees that were created in recent years. We cannot lose them; as you and I discussed, they can only be augmented.
The fight against crime and corruption should certainly be among the priority areas in your work. You must analyse the decisions already made. If there are any that have created a ‘murky’ situation, as you say, they will need to be eradicated. This applies to any administrative regulations and separate decisions that are not in accordance with the current laws, including federal laws and Moscow city legislation. There is a whole range of other areas that I think need to be looked into very carefully. I think we will be meeting on a regular basis, when necessary, to discuss these matters.
There are many problems. I have the information from citizens who are writing in. Incidentally, I have recently begun receiving a lot of information about the spread of underground casinos in Moscow. We closed them down a while ago, but now we need to take the necessary actions, conduct raids, and see who is breaking the law, because any activities in this area are unlawful, and anyone engaging in this business should be put in jail. Please look into it and report back to me.
Sergei Sobyanin: This is indeed a problem we are facing. We will be looking into it together with law enforcement agencies very soon, and I will certainly report back to you on the progress.
Dmitry Medvedev: Very well, thank you.